Having listened to a few tracks between us we already knew we were going to like the music but had no idea what was really in store for us as we decamped to Ronnie Scotts for the night to see Matthew Halsall playing with Dwight Trible. After the early act which was a good, classic jazz trio Matthew accompanied by the Gondwana Orchestra (amazing flute and sax player Chip Wickham, great piano, double bass and drums) modestly entered the stage. The music began and straight away started to lift us higher and higher until we were transported away to ethereal musical realms, floating on marshmallows and puffy clouds, high above the world listening to the most beautiful, subtle sounds and melodies flowing effortlessly from Matthew and his band.
Matthew’s clear but subtle style is reminiscent of both Kind of Blue and Night Train all in one, but better, each song lifting us higher and higher. We were delighted by every single track, and every subtle invention – plucking the strings of the piano like it was a Zither, the double bass played as effortlessly as if it was the size of a guitar, and the combined singing and flute playing; we were utterly mesmerised. Sitting there sipping my No Pete Mojito, holding hands with A, listening to this musical nirvana I could have died happy there and then.
After the first set we were floating high, hardly able to speak. Pausing for a refill, we thought it couldn’t get any better….we were wrong. The band returned to the stage this time with the charismatic Dwight Trible. Using his voice like the sixth instrument in the band, his extraordinary celestial style of singing only improved the evening. One minute soft and low, the next strong and clear, words escaping from his mouth like pearls. The phrasing and intonation was unexpected, words melted together to become beautiful musical phrases in their own right. It was unlike any jazz singing I have ever heard before and it was wonderful.
Not wanting the evening to end, we rounded off the night chatting to the very modest Matthew and his number two, Chip Wickham afterwards in the foyer as they signed our CDs, who seemed unaware that they and Dwight had just given us one of the best nights of live jazz I have ever seen. We floated back to Kings Cross changed forever by what we had just witnessed.
So if you get the chance to see either Matthew Hasall or Dwight Trible perform near you, don’t miss it, though be warned like us you’ll want to give up your job, sell your house and worldly possessions and follow them round the world, in the hope of hearing their wonderful mesmerising spiritual brand of jazz again.